Theology and Oriental Studies | University of Oxford
Theology and Oriental Studies
Buddhist prayer flags.
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Theology and Oriental Studies

The course in Theology and Oriental Studies enables you to learn in depth about a number of the world’s great religious traditions, including Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism. To engage with all the different aspects of the course, you have to be something of a historian and a philosopher, a textual and literary critic, and a linguist. These disciplines together not only enable students to appreciate the qualities of religions that can be radically different from those in Western societies, but also equip graduates to embark on a wide range of careers.

This degree offers the opportunity to study the major world religions and their primary languages. Students can also explore the relationship between religions and science, and the place of religious ethics in public life. Theology and Oriental Studies provides an understanding of the intellectual underpinning of religious traditions, and of the social and cultural contexts for religious belief and practice.

The Theology and Religion and Oriental Studies Faculties have between them more than 270 members, ranging from experts in the ancient languages and literature of the world’s religions to church historians and systematic theologians. Their reputations, together with excellent library facilities, attract scholars from all over the world.

TOS Careers

Oxford graduates in Theology and Oriental Studies can expect to go on to careers as diverse as law, social work, the media, journalism, publishing, banking, management consultancy, accountancy, personnel management, teaching, the police force and the arts. Employers look very favourably on applicants who have learned oriental languages, and Oxford graduates with such skills are among the most successful each year in finding employment. The Theology and Religion Faculty’s website has information about careers for theologians.

Related courses

Students interested in this course might also like to consider other Theology and Religion or Oriental Studies courses.

A typical weekly timetable

Work is divided between tutorials (at least one a week), lectures (up to six a week) and language classes (at least three a week in the first year). A large part of your week will be spent in private study to prepare for tutorials.

Terms 1–3

Courses

  • Religion and religions
  • One of the following languages:
    Greek
    Hebrew
    Arabic
    Tibetan
    Pali (not always available)
    Sanskrit
    which have three assessment components each

Assessment

First University examinations: Four written papers and possibly an oral examination, depending on the option

Terms 4–9

Courses

Students take seven papers, three in Oriental Studies and three in Theology; the seventh may be chosen from either Oriental Studies or Theology. In addition, all students must prepare a 12,000-word thesis on a topic of their choice, which may be chosen from either Oriental Studies or Theology.

The options listed above are illustrative and may change. More information about current options is available on the Theology and Oriental Studies websites.

Assessment

Final University Examinations: Seven papers assessed either by written examination or by submitted coursework, depending upon the option, plus a thesis

The content and format of this course may change in some circumstances. Read further information about potential course changes.

Experience of studying a language, and a subject involving essay-writing, to either A-level, Advanced Higher, Higher Level in the IB or another equivalent can be helpful to students in completing this course, although they are not required for admission. Students are not expected to have studied any Oriental Language before.

Some candidates must also take the Oriental Languages Aptitude Test (OLAT) as part of their application. Please see how to apply for further details.

Oxford University is committed to recruiting the best and brightest students from all backgrounds. We offer a generous package of financial support to Home/EU students from lower-income households. (UK nationals living in the UK are usually Home students.)

Fees

These annual fees are for full-time students who begin this undergraduate course here in 2016.

Fee status

Tuition fee

College fee

Total annual fees

Home/EU£9,000£0£9,000
Islands
(Channel Islands
& Isle of Man)
£9,000£0£9,000
Overseas£15,295£7,135£22,430

For more information please refer to our tuition fees page. Fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on likely increases to fees and charges.

Living costs

Living costs at Oxford might be less than you’d expect, as our world-class resources and college provision can help keep costs down.

Living costs for 2016/17 are estimated to be between £970 and £1,433 for each month you are in Oxford. Our academic year is made up of three eight-week terms, so you would not usually need to be in Oxford for much more than six months of the year but may wish to budget over a nine-month period to ensure you also have sufficient funds during the holidays to meet essential costs. For further details please visit our living costs webpage.

Financial support

Home/EU

A full loan is available from the UK government to cover tuition fees for students undertaking their first undergraduate degree*, so you don’t need to pay your tuition fees up front.

In 2016 Oxford is offering one of the most generous bursary packages of any UK university to those on a family income of £42,875 or less, with additional opportunities available to those from households with incomes of £16,000 or less.  This support is available in addition to the government grants and loans.  See further details.

Islands
(Channel Islands and Isle of Man)

Islands students are entitled to different support to that of students from the rest of the UK.

Please refer the links below for information on the support to you available from your funding agency:

States of Jersey
States of Guernsey
Isle of Man

Overseas

Please refer to the "Other Scholarships" section of our Oxford support page.

*If you have studied at undergraduate level before and completed your course, you will be classed as an Equivalent or Lower Qualification student (ELQ) and won’t be eligible to receive government or Oxford funding

Fees, Funding and Scholarship search

Additional Fees and Charges Information for Theology and Oriental Studies

There are no compulsory costs for this course beyond the fees shown above and your living costs.

All candidates must follow the application procedure as shown in applying to Oxford. The information below gives specific details for students applying for this course.

Written work

Candidates are expected to submit two pieces of written work, one for Theology and one for Oriental Studies by 10 November 2016. The work should be marked in the normal process of school or college work. All written work must be in English.

The written work for Theology should be in Religious Studies. If you cannot submit samples of work in Religious Studies, please submit work in a related area. If you do not have any such written work available, please contact the Tutor for Admissions at the college considering your application.

The written work for Oriental Studies may be on any subject.

For more information, and to download a cover sheet, please see our further guidance on the submission of written work.

Written test

Candidates who intend to specialise in Hebrew/Judaism or Arabic/Islam must take the Oriental Languages Aptitude Test (OLAT), normally at their own school or college on 2 November 2016. Candidates must make sure they are available to take the test at this time. Separate registration for this test is required and the final deadline for entries is 15 October 2016. It is the responsibility of the candidate to ensure that they are registered for this test. For further details please see the test website at www.olatoxford.org.uk.

What are tutors looking for?

Admissions tutors will be keen to find out about your linguistic aptitude and your commitment to a wide-ranging course. They will be looking for ability to think clearly, form sound arguments and to listen and respond to counterarguments.

Selection criteria

Candidates may wish to refer to the selection criteria for Theology and for Oriental Studies.

Suggested reading

At present we do not produce a specific Theology and Oriental Studies reading list for people who are considering making an application, though we always advise prospective candidates to read beyond what they are reading in school and to explore areas that interest them.

Apply

Jonny Vaughan, 1st year

Watch a series of short videos of students talking about some aspect of their time at Oxford.

Chloe, 1st year

'There’s a whole range of people with different faiths, beliefs, worldviews. That’s part of what makes it so exciting in tutorial - you don’t want to just hear people saying the same as you!'

Contextual information

The Key Information Sets provide a lot of numbers about the Oxford experience – but there is so much about what you get here that numbers can’t convey. It’s not just the quantity of the Oxford education that you need to consider, there is also the quality – let us tell you more.

Oxford’s tutorial system

Regular tutorials, which are the responsibility of the colleges, are the focal point of teaching and learning at Oxford. The tutorial system is one of the most distinctive features of an Oxford education: it ensures that students work closely with tutors throughout their undergraduate careers, and offers a learning experience which is second to none.

A typical tutorial is a one-hour meeting between a tutor and one, two, or three students to discuss reading and written work that the students have prepared in advance. It gives students the chance to interact directly with tutors, to engage with them in debate, to exchange ideas and argue, to ask questions, and of course to learn through the discussion of the prepared work. Many tutors are world-leaders in their fields of research, and Oxford undergraduates frequently learn of new discoveries before they are published.

Each student also receives teaching in a variety of other ways, depending on the course. This will include lectures and classes, and may include laboratory work and fieldwork. But the tutorial is the place where all the elements of the course come together and make sense. Meeting regularly with the same tutor – often weekly throughout the term – ensures a high level of individual attention and enables the process of learning and teaching to take place in the context of a student’s individual needs.

The tutorial system also offers the sustained commitment of one or more senior academics – as college tutors – to each student’s progress. It helps students to grow in confidence, to develop their skills in analysis and persuasive argument, and to flourish as independent learners and thinkers.

More information about tutorials

The benefits of the college system

  • Every Oxford student is a member of a college. The college system is at the heart of the Oxford experience, giving students the benefits of belonging to both a large and internationally renowned university and a much smaller, interdisciplinary, college community.
  • Each college brings together academics, undergraduate and postgraduate students, and college staff. The college gives its members the chance to be part of a close and friendly community made up of both leading academics and students from different subjects, year groups, cultures and countries. The relatively small size of each college means that it is easy to make friends and contribute to college life. There is a sense of belonging, which can be harder to achieve in a larger setting, and a supportive environment for study and all sorts of other activities.
  • Colleges organise tutorial teaching for their undergraduates, and one or more college tutors will oversee and guide each student’s progress throughout his or her career at Oxford. The college system fosters a sense of community between tutors and students, and among students themselves, allowing for close and supportive personal attention to each student’s academic development.

It is the norm that undergraduates live in college accommodation in their first year, and in many cases they will continue to be accommodated by their college for the majority or the entire duration of their course. Colleges invest heavily in providing an extensive range of services for their students, and as well as accommodation colleges provide food, library and IT resources, sports facilities and clubs, drama and music, social spaces and societies, access to travel or project grants, and extensive welfare support. For students the college often becomes the hub of their social, sporting and cultural life.

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